Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Movie Preview: April 2014

This past March managed to rake in just over $800 million at the box office. That's not a bad total, but with no Hunger Games type of movie, it fell short of any record. In fact, it also fell short of last 2010 and 2013 in addition to 2012's record-setting March, so it's nothing to write home about. April is usually the month where the box office dies down again before summer in Hollywood officially begins, but this April should be different. Studios are beginning to realize that there are more than five or six months (May, June, July, November, December, and recently March). Recently, The Lego Movie did huge business in February while Lone Survivor and Ride Along had great success in January. Most notably this month, Marvel made the decision to throw Captain America: The Winter Soldier into the beginning of April. That added with several other potential hits should make this April a surprisingly big month compared to previous Aprils.

April 4th - 6th-

After slightly mixed reviews to both Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Avengers Phase II continues on with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Early reviews out suggest that this could be the best movie of Phase II. No, it won't beat Iron Man 3's box office total, but it should get a huge bump up from the first Captain America, which ended up with $176 million here in the US, which was the second lowest among the Phase I movies, ahead of only The Incredible Hulk. It seems a bit odd for this movie to be opening up in the beginning of April being that Marvel has always released their Avengers movies in the big movie months, but as referenced earlier, studios are learning that there are in fact 12 months in a year and movies can do well in any month. Marvel seems to be experimenting with that a bit this year as Winter Soldier comes out in April and Guardians of the Galaxy is set for an August release. While April rarely has big movies like this, it's not new grounds for the month. Recently, the Fast and Furious franchise has learned that April can bring success as Fast and Furious and Fast Five both raked in the cash with an April release. The latter of those two currently holds the opening weekend record for April at $86.2 million. Winter Soldier is currently poised to break that, but not by a huge margin. With solid reviews and no real competition until The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits theaters at the start of May, Winter Soldier should be able to completely dominate April while making Marvel look brilliant by taking a chance in April.

April 11th - 13th- 

Yes, there is more than just Winter Soldier coming out this month, despite what some may think. Opening up in the shadow of a huge Marvel movie is always a scary thing, but there are three movies that are taking on the challenge and all of them are different enough that Winter Soldier shouldn't effect them too much. The movie with the biggest chance of stealing the crown from Winter Soldier is Rio 2. Blue Sky has an incredible track record at the box office as all eight of their movies have topped $100 million in the US, while their Ice Age movies are some of the biggest animated movies ever overseas. Rio was also huge overseas and Rio 2 should be even bigger, so it's US gross shouldn't mean much. That said, Rio was a fairly well received, so Rio 2 could do decent business. The musical bird movie already had a loaded cast, and they are upping the antics in this one by bringing back the original cast and adding a few big names like Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae.

The second movie of this weekend brings Kevin Costner back to his glory days as a sports-movie star. I'm specifically thinking of Field of Dreams by saying this. Interestingly enough, Costner has two sports movies this year. Later in the year he will star in the movie McFarland, but right now he will take on the role of an NFL manager in Draft Day. The NFL Draft isn't until May, but draft season is completely underway with the combine behind us and pro-days currently happening. Draft Day takes a bit of a unique approach as it is not based on a true story, as most sports movies are. However, with Costner on-board and all the actual ESPN analysts acting in the movie as if this was the real deal, this could work. It appears that instead of trying to tell an actual story that happened, they are trying to convey the types of things that go on behind the scenes on draft day, so NFL fans who are super invested in the draft will most likely be curious enough to check this out as it is perfectly timed because all of them have their minds on the draft right now.

Last but not least is the wild-card of the week in Oculus. Oculus is a horror movie, and horror movies are always hit or miss. In fact, it is rarely in between that. This year, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Devil's Due were big misses, but last year the horror genre was on a huge role with Mama, Evil Dead, The Conjuring, and Insidious Chapter 2 all hitting at least $50 million. So a well done horror movie has proven to draw out the horror crowd in masses, but predicting exactly how each movie plays is nearly impossible. Early reviews have Oculus as very strong, so it could play out like last April's Evil Dead, but who knows for certain.

April 18th - 20th- 

The third weekend of April is the most crowded one. In addition to all the previously-mentioned movies having potential to still be playing well, four new movies get added to the market as they all will be fighting to get box office attention before they all die in May when huge hits like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, and X-Men: Days of Future Past hit the theaters. The most interesting of the bunch is Transcendence. Wally Pfister is essentially the protege of big-time director Christopher Nolan. Pfister has done the cinematography work for every Nolan-directed movie except for Nolan's first movie Following, of which Nolan did the cinematography work himself. Now after working under Nolan for nearly 15 years, Pfister makes his directorial debut with Transcendence. Transcendence is a sci-fi movie wherein a terminally-ill scientist downloads his mind into a computer and soon becomes unstoppable. Johnny Depp stars as said scientist Will Caster. Depp is joined by Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman. With an interesting premise and a good cast, Pfister could have himself a hit with his directorial debut.

Next up this weekend is Marlon Wayans returning with A Haunted House 2. Nearly 15 years ago, the Wayans brothers were fairly revolutionary with their movie Scary Movie. It was a comedy horror spoof movie and audiences ate it up. The Wayans left that after the second movie and the movies went downhill from there. However, Marlon Wayans came back last year with a very similar movie in A Haunted House. This was also a comedy horror spoof movie, but it was focused specifically on spoofing the found footage horror movies of late, specifically the Paranormal Activity movies. The movie became a surprise hit by opening up to $18 million on it's way to a final total of $40 million. Being that the movie only cost $2.5 million, this was a huge success. And just like the Paranormal movies, this huge profit means that this year we have a sequel. With Marlon Wayans again leading this one, it could enjoy similar success.

This year has been a very religious year for Hollywood. There has already been Son of God, Noah, and surprise hit God's Not Dead. Hoping that religious audiences aren't burned out by now is Heaven is for Real. The movie is based on a true story of a young boy who nearly died, and upon coming back claimed that he visited Heaven. This is supported by the fact that this boy now knows things that would be impossible for him to know of otherwise, including facts about things that happened before he was born. The movie is based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same title, but in a crowded market in the month of April, the movie has the chance of being lost in the crowd.

After taking a 2013 off, Disneynature is back this April with Bears. This follows Earth, Oceans, African Cats, and Chimpanzee, all opening on around Earth Day in consecutive years starting in 2009. These aren't meant to be huge hits, but all things considered, these nature documentaries have done fairly well. Those wanting to learn a bit about bears can go watch this and Disneynature will donate part of the income to the National Parks in the US.

April 25th - 27th-

The final weekend of April is typically the riskiest weekend of the month as new releases face the challenge of opening in the shadow of the big summer opener, this case being The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Three movies are taking on this challenge. The first of which is Brick Mansions. Brick Mansions is a remake of French action film District B13 from about ten years ago. Both Brick Mansions and District B13 are from producer Luc Besson, famous for the Taken movies. It's a PG-13-rated action film that feels fairly generic. Normally I'd say a generic action film coming out in April right before a huge blockbuster is a recipe for a dud, but this one is different. Why? It's starring Paul Walker. A few months back, the world was shocked by the news that Paul Walker had been killed in a car accident. While not known as the best actor in history, he was well-liked. Brick Mansions is one of the last movies he completed before dying and will be the first nationwide release starring him since he died. Subject-matter aside, fans of Paul Walker will most likely show up to see him on the big screen one more time before Fast and Furious 7 comes out next year.

Next up is the movie this weekend that probably has the biggest chance of falling flat and that is R-rated comedy The Other Woman. Starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton, and Leslie Mann, The Other Woman is a comedy where these women team up to get revenge on the guy appears to be in a relationship with all of them. Now Cameron Diaz has recently starred in the big hit Bad Teacher, so her leading another R-rated comedy could mean success, but it instead feels a lot like last April's The Big Wedding. That was another R-rated comedy with a loaded cast that completely bombed when it opened up in the final weekend of April. Comedy fans are more likely to wait for May's Neighbors.

Last and possibly least is horror movie The Quiet Ones. Like I mentioned with Oculus, horror movies are a hit or miss. Some are huge. Some are dead on arrival. Usually not in between. And it's hard to predict which ones are which. However, if I am making a complete guess, I will say that Oculus will be a hit while The Quiet Ones becomes a miss, because I have heard a lot more buzz about Oculus. But who knows, maybe it will be the other way around. Maybe both will be big. Or maybe horror fans will take the month off and show up to neither. Who knows. Your guess is as good as mine. 

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